An increasing number of black families in the Washington area are seeking information on private elementary and high schools, says Philippa Jackson, executive director of The Black Student Fund.

Last year the fund, which helps match children and schools, received calls from 1,000 families. She estimates that about 100 eventually entered their children in a private school, where tuition may run from $1,000 to $3,500 a year.

This year, Jackson says, there appears to be "a real interest in boarding schools. I'm not sure why. It's really a non-traditional thing in black communities. But the word is getting out, and they're looking."

While the fund does have some financial aid available, she says its primary job is helping parents choose schools for their children. The fund works with 50 participating schools in the Washington area, of which about 11 percent of the student enrollment is black.

"We conduct a telephone interview for 30 to 45 minutes," says Jackson. "We try to find out as much as we can about the family." The fund then can narrow the search to three schools for parents to visit.

After a student is accepted, he or she can apply to the school and to the Black Student Fund for financial aid. Most of the participating schools have some funds for financial-need scholarships, Jackson says.

This year 69 students are receiving aid from the Black Student Fund, ranging from $200 to $2,000. Most of the fund's resources -- this year $50,000 -- come from private donations. There is no charge for assistance in choosing a private school.